The word “asexual”, when applied to humans, describes a person who experiences no or extremely low sexual attraction and desire for sexual interactions with other people. Asexuals consider it an orientation similar to hetero- and homosexuality. Instead of being attracted to one or more specific genders, they are attracted to none.
In the asexual community, there’s also a differentiation between sexual and romantic attraction. A person might have the desire for a romantic relationship but not to sleep with that person. Accordingly, there are heteroromantic, homoromantic, and bi-/panromantic asexuals. If neither romantic nor sexual attraction is present, a person might call themselves an aromantic asexual; or “aroace”.
Two days ago, I published an article on this blog in which I revealed that I’m a lifelong single and, accordingly, have no sexual experience. I also said that I was wondering if I wanted to change that and find a partner, but I’ve been mostly indifferent to the fact that I had no mate and that I’m a virgin. The post was well received, and I got a lot of positive feedback on Twitter and in private. People told me their stories of being single for longer and finding partners later in life, reassuring me that it’s not too late. I also received the question of whether I have considered being asexual or even aroace. So, let’s talk about that.
I had sex-ed classes in third grade. I was curious to learn how humans procreate, but as a child, this had no relevance yet. My expectation was that it was something that came naturally later in life. As a teenager, like most boys, I was interested in girls, although I did not feel ready for dating or a relationship yet. However, I remember a situation where I realized that I was thinking about relationships as just very intimate friendships, whereas others would be thinking about the physical aspects. I called myself “an asexual” in front of a friend, but I had made up the term for myself as a joke, not knowing whether that was a thing or not.
In my early twenties, I first searched the term “asexuality” online and discovered the “Asexuality Visibility and Education Network” (AVEN), the quasi-official asexuality forum. If I remember correctly, I believe it was prompted by some conversations and also the fact that I had noticed my body was capable of sexual arousal, but I still had no desire to act upon those signals. I wanted to know if I was a late bloomer or whether I was different from the average person my age. Reading and interacting with the community helped me gain an understanding that asexuality is a thing, but I couldn’t decide whether the term applied to me or not.
I also learned that asexuality is a spectrum with various shades of grey between a “pure” asexual and an allosexual (= experiencing a normal amount of sexual desire) and that there are terms like “demisexual” that describe someone who only experiences sexual attraction to a partner with whom they already have an intimate romantic relationship. And, unlike celibacy (being a “volcel”), asexuality is not a choice. Community members who were not yet sure which label applies to them would call themselves “questioning”, and that’s what I think applied to me as well.
People typically realize whether they are gay, straight, or bi from the sexual attraction that they experience, even if they haven’t had intercourse with their preferred gender yet. Asexual virgins, however, often hear that they cannot probably know whether they like sex or not without trying. The asexual community fights back against this view as a misconception, but I think this is a valid point. I realized that pondering and theorizing would get me nowhere, and I mostly ignored the question. If the right person came along and I got close enough to them that having sex was an actual possibility, I would surely notice how I felt about the idea, and then I would have my answer. However, as I’ve mentioned in the previous post, the right person never came along, at least so far. When I have occasionally searched for and gone on dates, I have followed the approach of ignoring possible sexual incompatibility until the point where it would come up. It mostly hasn’t because my match or us both would lose interest before that. So I’ve remained “questioning”, and it’s closer to two decades than one since I first stumbled upon AVEN.
I have one helpful data point from last year. That was the first time I met a woman who indicated a strong interest in sleeping with me. I rejected her due to a total lack of attraction and haven’t regretted that decision ever. I believe talking about myself as a “potential asexual” helped her cope with the rejection, as she could think it was not about her but about me. However, a single case is obviously not enough to confirm my asexuality. I need more data.
While I’ve talked about asexuality with close friends, I’ve not used the term in public so far. As I said before, I’m not confident that the label applies to me. I might just not have met the right person yet and opened myself up to the possibility of a sexual encounter because there was no other person with a mutual interest. Unlike many people who complain about it on AVEN, I’ve not been peer pressured into dating so far, except for occasional hints at a desire for grandkids from my parents. People in my environment seem to gladly accept me as a heterosexual man who just hasn’t found a partner yet. I fear that if I called myself “asexual”, people might say it’s not true and just a coping mechanism for not finding anyone or plain resignation. So I typically don’t talk about it at all unless specifically asked. Well, now the cat is out of the bag with this blog post.
Considering that I’ve fallen in love multiple times, with either my crush never knowing about it (because I was too shy to tell them) or them rejecting me, I would not consider myself aromantic. However, maybe a term like “demiromantic” could be applicable. As mentioned in my previous post, I don’t pursue a relationship for its own sake. It has to be a specific person. I never sat on the couch alone and wished for a generic woman by my side, but I’ve sat there and wished for a specific person to give me company.
To summarize, yes, I have given asexuality and aromanticism some thought, and have done so for a long time. The concepts are helpful in understanding me. I’m not sure if these labels fit, though. Hence, I don’t use them.